Acevo targets the mandarins over public service contracts

Acevo is arranging a meeting next month with officials from a range of Whitehall departments as part of its drive to increase the number of public services contracts for charities.

The chief executives body will invite officials from ministries that commission public service delivery contracts, including the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department of Health and the Ministry of Justice.

It aims to find out what departments are doing to improve their capacity to run procurement processes involving third sector organisations. It is also examining how third sector organisations can form partnerships to increase their chances of landing contracts.

Ralph Michell, policy advocate at Acevo, said: "There are lots of people doing that kind of work, but departments are not necessarily aware of what is going on elsewhere, so it is potentially rather bitty."

Acevo commissioned a report from retired senior civil servant Mavis McDonald when the sector gained fewer contracts than expected last year for the Pathways to Work programme, run by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The report said that ministers should give clearer guidance on their objectives. McDonald later told Third Sector that it was difficult to get big departments to accept cross-cutting policies.

Acevo reacted angrily this year when the MoJ announced it was dropping a target for the involvement of third sector organisations in the provision of probation services (Third Sector Online, 28 March).

A spokesman for the Office of the Third Sector, whose remit includes promoting the sector across government, said it would have a representative at the meeting and was looking forward to it.

He said: "Acevo is an important strategic partner. The OTS is in constant communication with the sector and welcomes all efforts to contribute to our shared aim of a thriving third sector."

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